Hall Of Fame
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Charlottesville, VA
The real question to me is: In the current large (192) draws, how many matches are competitive in the early rounds?
I decided to define "competitive" as the loser winning at least 7 games. I made one exception for a match that was 6-0, 7-6, and another exception for a 6-0, 4-6, 6-0 match in a later round (see seed results later in this post); those is a tense situation for the winner, so it seems like a competitive experience to me even though only six games were won by the loser. So, the worst a match could be was 6-4, 6-3, or 7-5, 6-2, and still be considered competitive.
I applied this criteria to first round matches in the Boys' 18s at the National Clay Courts, which are still going on as we discuss this. The pattern in the top half of the draw was pretty consistent: Slightly less than half of the first round matches were competitive (18 non-competitive, 14 competitive). On the surface, that means to me that there is no burning need to get rid of the first round and make it a 128 draw, much less to make it a 64 or 32 draw.
However, there is another perspective. None of the 32 seeds were involved in these matches. The unseeded players can have competitive matches with each other at L2 and L3 nationals; they don't need to be allowed into L1 nationals in order to have development and growth opportunities. So, the second important question is: At what point do the 32 seeds start having competitive matches?
By seed group, the round at which the first "competitive" match occurred was:
1-8 seeds: R32, R32, R64, R32(loss), R64(loss), R128, R16(loss), R32 (then R16 loss)
9-16 seeds: R128(loss), R64, R128(then R64 loss), R128(then R32 upset loss), R32, R128(then R32 loss), R128(loss), R64
17 seeds: R64(loss), R64(loss), R128, R16(upset higher seed), R128(loss), R128(loss), R32(upset higher seed), R128, R128, R128(loss), R32(upset higher seed and again in R16), R64(then R32 loss), R64(loss), R128, R64(loss)
It appears that one section was missing a 17 seed due to withdrawal.
It does not appear to me that seeds have to wait very long to get good matches. I also don't think that anyone is missing school in July. So, that leaves only the hotel costs as justifications for smaller draws at L1 nationals held in summer.